Every December, as I am writing my year-end family reflections and history, I also take stock of my writing goals and outcomes to see if I have made any progress in my development as a writer, in my knowledge and insight and connections of, and within, the publishing industry, and in the outcomes I am attempting to achieve.
But no matter how I look at it 2015 was a big year in many respects. In addition to having three books released in one year--Common Ground (Skyhorse, New York), Indiana Wineries (Blue River Press, Indianapolis) and the novel Slay Bells, as R.L.Perry (Blue River Press, Indianapolis)--I also published a large pile of other material, wide-ranging in subject, scope, and genre. Every morning, when I get up to write in the dark, I write what I want to write--and sometimes what I have to write in order to meet deadline(s).
As far as essays and articles go, I placed work in Midwest Outdoors, YouthWorker, Preaching and Together magazines. All told, something like 75 essays for these publications alone.
But in addition, I also placed a number of stories in other magazines this year--mostly university presses and literary journals--that ranged from what might loosely be deemed as romance, fantasy, or literary. Among these, "The Tall Girl's Wedding", "Equinox", "The Man Upstairs" and "The Thin Man" are some of my best. I now have a wide ranging corpus of stories, few clearly defined by genre, that I hope to collect between covers very soon. As one editor wrote about one story, "I'm not sure what this is, or how to define it, but I like it."
I also published a few more science fiction stories this year (with others sold and scheduled for publication in early 2016) that include, "The Last Man on Earth" in Nebula Rift and the forthcoming "The Superannuated Man" in Morpheus Tales (England).
Note: this last story, "The Superannuated Man", was one of the many that I lost when my computer crashed and burned two years ago. Of the stories lost, I knew that I would have to rewrite this one from memory, but the new version turned out even better than the first, for which I am grateful.
As far as poetry goes, I also placed many new poems in literary magazines in 2015. Some of these could be categorized as "love" poems, but others were experimental, emotional, regional, domestic, or light verse. I also continued writing on my poetry collection that I hope to entitle, Circus. It is safe to say that I wrote over 100 new poems this year, and many that I consider my best to date, and they continue to emerge . . . often late at night before I go to sleep or when I wake in the middle of the night with some hair-brained idea and begin writing again. Poems often jump-start my creativity.
As a rule, I write about everything that is part of the human experience and the human condition. Spirituality, love, ministry, horror, recreation, wines, joys, sorrows, relationships, sex, outdoors, fitness and the future . . . to name a few.
Finally, as I look forward to 2016, I anticipate five new books that will be forthcoming--that's almost a book every two months and thinking about it astounds me and fills me with a certain anticipation and dread. Lord willing, and if I don't die first, I will also sign on for more books that I will produce in 2017 and beyond.
Those titles you can look for in 2016 include:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (a children's biography of the Civil Rights leader)
Praying Through Cancer (a book for cancer patients and their families)
The Seven Deadly Virtues (Inter Varsity Press)
Bleak Midwinter (2nd book in the Mary Christmas mystery series)
Cold Snap (3rd book in the Mary Christmas mystery series)
I thank all of my publishers and editors and my agent, Cynthia, for working with a weirdo like me!
And what will I write in 2016? Only God knows . . . and me. As I told my mother decades ago (age 12) when she asked, "What are you going to write about?" I answered, "Anything I want to."
Land of the free. It's a great country. And I'll keep writing if you'll keep reading.